blue light

Blue Light / Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment used by dermatologists to treat pre-cancerous lesions of the skin, acne, inflammatory rosacea, sun damage and photoaging. For sun damage related issues, this light is used in conjunction with a chemical that squeezes into unhealthy cells, and when it is exposed to the blue light, causes those cells to crust up and shed. This treatment is minimally invasive and has good outcomes with removing sun damaged and precancerous lesions from the skin.

 

What conditions are treated with the blue light / PDT?
◦ Actinic keratosis.
◦ Sun damage.
◦ Photoaging.
◦ Acne.
◦ Inflammatory rosacea.

What to expect during your PDT appointment?
◦ First your skin is cleansed.
◦ A prescription solution called Levulan is applied to the treatment areas.
◦ After 30-120 minutes (exact amount of time determined by your physician), the face is wiped with saline, goggles are placed over your eyes, and the treated skin is exposed to a special blue light.
◦ During this treatment, you may feel some burning or heat, but usually it is very tolerable.
◦ Sunscreen should then be applied, and for 48 hours you should avoid fluorescent lighting and natural sunlight.

What to expect after your PDT treatment?
◦ Within a few days you may get scabbing, crusting, inflammation and peeling.
◦ If any suspicious lesions persist in the weeks after the procedure, your dermatologist may take a biopsy.
◦ Wear sunscreen and avoid the sun for the week after the procedure, while your skin is healing.

Who is not a good candidate for PDT?
◦ History of a porphyria.
◦ History of lupus.
◦ History of other photosensitive disorder.

Risks and side effects:
◦ If you have a history of cold sores, the virus can be reactivated by the light treatment and the infection can spread throughout the treated area; this could lead to scarring.
◦ Discuss this with your doctor; it may be recommended that you take a preventive dose of an antiviral medication.
◦ Scarring, infection and blistering is rare.
◦ The most common side effect is tenderness, inflammation, scabbing, crusting and peeling.

PDT and acne and inflammatory rosacea:
◦ The medicated solution Levulan may or may not be applied; when applied patients get more inflammation afterwards, but the clogged pores and pimples clear up much quicker.
◦ We advise 3-4 treatments every 3-4 weeks for the best results (if using Levulan); severe cases may require 5 treatments.
◦ It is usual to continue getting treatments every 3 months to maintain the improvement.
◦ Depending on the severity of the acne, the dermatologist may use a laser light (V-beam laser) rather than the blue light to penetrate deeper.
◦ This treatment is not covered by insurance for the treatment of acne or rosacea.